Georgia Trio Suspended

By Josh Herwitt - October 11, 2007


Did you ever play hookey from school when you were a little kid?

If so, you wouldn't want to be doing it at the University of Georgia.

That's what Mike Mercer, Takais Brown and Albert Jackson are finding out right now.

On Thursday, Georgia coach Dennis Felton announced that the three players have all been suspended from the team for violating the school's new class attendance policy for student-athletes.

The policy, which was introduced last January by athletic director Damon Evans in an effort to boost graduation rates of student-athletes at Georgia, hands out $10 fines and game suspensions to any players caught missing class or any other academic appointments with an unexcused absence.

"We are determined to raise the standard relative to student-athletes in class and earning their degrees and not leaving Georgia empty handed," Felton said. "This policy is toward that purpose."

While the suspensions handed down by Felton will keep the three players out for a significant amount of time, they will still be academically eligible according to university, Southeastern Conference and NCAA standards.

Jackson will miss the least amount of time of the trio, sitting out six games, while Mercer will miss nearly half the season with a 15-game suspension. Brown, who has been Georgia's most productive postman in his first three years in Athens, will also miss a considerable amount of time with a nine-game suspension, and the earliest he could return would be the second game in the Rainbow Classic tournament, forcing him to miss contests against Wisconsin and Wake Forest.

For Mercer, though, this isn't the first time the junior has missed time on the Bulldogs' roster. Last season, the Snellville, Ga. native sat out 10 games due to a knee injury, as Georgia struggled during that period with a 5-5 record before finishing the 2006-07 campaign at 19-14 overall and 8-8 in the SEC.

But now, Mercer will have to wait to receive medical clearance before his suspension even begins this year, and that means he'll miss important dates with Gonzaga, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State before being cleared to play against Alabama at home.

"I understand that I violated athletic association policy and I accept responsibility for my actions," Mercer said. "I'm sorry for whatever negative impact my absence might have on the team this season. From this point on, I just want to focus my energy on being ready to help the team when I'm able to return."

If you think back to the days of former head coach Jim Harrick, you'll remember the infamous exam that Georgia coaches gave to their players for their Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball course.

And that's why Felton is so adamant about getting his kids not just to be college basketball players, but more importantly, college students.

"We're going to be fine," he asserted. "One good thing is this is the first time we've had the kind of depth we have now, going into this season with 13 good scholarship players. I remain as excited as ever about our team."

Taylor Throws Two More Off Ball State

First-year Ball State coach Billy Taylor isn't messing around.

After all the hoopla that's gone on at the Muncie, Ind. school over the last few months, he's made it pretty clear that any misconduct will not be tolerated, and on Thursday, he found himself dismissing two more players for separate team violations.

Those players were center Micah Rollin and guard Jarelle Redden, both junior college transfers who were expected to play significant roles for the Cardinals this season.

"We are disappointed in the actions of Jarelle and Micah," the former Lehigh coach said. "It's unfortunate we had to come to this decision, but we wish them both well in their future endeavors."

The count now is up to six for scholarship players that have left the team since Taylor succeeded Ronny Thompson in August. Freshmen C.J. Clark and Robert Martina applied for transfers in August, and last month, Taylor kicked Jalon Perryman and junior college transfer Kevin Ford off the team for undisclosed reasons.

The violations that Rollins and Redden each committed were also undisclosed.

"It's only a disruption if you allow it to be a disruption," Taylor told The Star Press in Muncie. "We have to continue to work. We're not going to allow this to be a distraction or use it as an excuse. The guys who are here are going to keep working hard to get better."

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 08:56 PM on October 11, 2007
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